Samaranch gives boost to Wembley

Juan Antonio Samaranch stepped into the row over the future of Wembley stadium yesterday when he said that an arena holding 65,000 spectators would be big enough to host the Summer Games.

Juan Antonio Samaranch stepped into the row over the future of Wembley stadium yesterday when he said that an arena holding 65,000 spectators would be big enough to host the Summer Games.

Last week the Government, with its eyes on a possible 2012 Olympic bid as well as on its campaign to host the 2006 football World Cup, gave Wembley officials 14 days to find a better way of rebuilding the stadium so it could stage track and field as well as football.

The demand came after the Sports Minister, Kate Hoey, commissioned a special report as plans showed it would be able to accommodate only around 65,000 for athletics events. British Olympic officials said that this was not big enough.

But Samaranch, the International Olympic Committee president, said: "I think 65,000 is enough. I think Barcelona [which hosted the 1992 Summer Games] was less than 60,000. Why not? For me, it is enough. In the Olympic Games and the World Cup, the number of spectators, 60 to 65,000 is enough. The importance is the billions of people watching on television. We have no rules there must be 65,000, 80,000 or 90,000."

As the controversy over the venue for a British Olympic bid continues, British athletics, still hoping to host the 2005 World Championships, yesterday attempted to suggest a way forward by dodging the Olympic issue altogether. Dave Moorcroft, chief executive of UK Athletics, set out an agenda on behalf of the Championship bidding group which offered his sport what he described as "the best of both worlds."

While the Government is due to announce on 15 December whether the planned conversion of Wembley stadium into an athletics venue is feasible - by inserting a 15-foot high concrete platform accommodating a track into the centre of the stadium - Moorcroft has no option but to hope for the best.

Working on the assumption that the rebuilt Wembley will not be completed in any form until 2004, he is calling for an athletics venue to be in place when the stadium opens, which would save an estimated £20m. And Moorcroft wants athletics to take advantage of Wembley by staging a special meeting to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Roger Bannister's four-minute mile.

Moorcroft believes the sport can meet the challenge of filling the stadium - which would have a capacity of 67,000 - for such an event, and believes it would form the ideal precursor to the following year's World Championships. Looking beyond 2005, Moorcroft suggests that the warm-up track which would have to be in place for any World Championships could be expanded to form a separate national stadium for athletics with a capacity of approximately 25,000, which he believes would be sufficient to host events such as Grand Prix 1 meetings, the European Cup and perhaps, the European Championships.

The two possible sites for the warm-up facility are either on the car park site next to the stadium or to the north of the stadium on what is currently a light industrial site, though this would involve a compulsory purchase order.

But there was a sense that the World Championship bidding committee were clutching at straws yesterday as even Moorcroft acknowledged that it looked "more and more likely" that Wembley would end up as a stadium for football and rugby.

Moorcroft reflected ruefully on Sport England's request that the World Championship bidders should stay at arm's length from the negotiations over Wembley's design. The Sport England contribution of £120m worth of Lottery money to the project was given on the understanding that Wembley should house football, rugby and athletics. But now that usage is in doubt. "In hindsight we should have forced the issue and said we must be involved at every stage of the negotiations," Moorcroft said.

News
Food blogger and Guardian writer Jack Monroe with her young son
people
News
people
Environment
The plant ‘Nepenthes zygon’ was donated to Kew in 2004
environment
Arts and Entertainment
booksPhotographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years - but he says it wasn’t all fun and games...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Sport
Aguero - who single-handedly has kept City's Champions League dreams alive - celebrates his dramatic late winner
footballManchester City 3 Bayern Munich 2: Argentine's late hat-rick sees home side snatch vital victory
News
Muhammad Ali pictured in better health in 2006
peopleBut he has enjoyed publicity from his alleged near-death experience
Life and Style
Fraud contributes 11p to a £2.00 box of half a dozen eggs
Arts and Entertainment
Tony breaks into Ian Garrett's yacht and makes a shocking discovery
TVReview: Revelations continue to make this drama a tough watch
News
news
News
peopleSinger tells The Independent what life is like in rehab in an exclusive video interview
News
The assumption that women are not as competent in leadership positions as men are leads to increased stress in the workplace
science... and it's down to gender stereotypes
Arts and Entertainment
Inner sanctum: Tove Jansson and friends in her studio in 1992
booksWhat was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Singer songwriter Bob Dylan performs on stage
films
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Lawyer - Cheshire

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CHESHIRE MARKET TOWN - An exciting and rare o...

Austen Lloyd: Residential Property Solicitor - Hampshire

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE - SENIOR POSITION - An exciti...

Recruitment Genius: Gas Installation Engineer

£29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Engineer is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor

£28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor is req...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital